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Looking for love in Victoria

From dating app letdowns to polyamoury, a glimpse into what dating is like in the modern world
Somatic sex coach Maxine Fischer gives insights into the cons of online dating, polyamoury, sex positivity and the barriers facing daters in Victoria. (Julia Di Paolo)

As a somatic sex coach, Maxine Fischer of Body Beloved Coaching sees firsthand what dating culture is like in Victoria and the common issues that plague those seeking sex and love.

Fischer, who has helped people embrace sex positivity throughout her adult life, has found that Victoria, Salt Spring Island and other places on the West Coast all tend to have sex-positive cultures.

“I see a lot of people exploring alternative relationship styles and a huge acceptance of different ways of being. Many people come to the coast because they want a more authentic way of life,” she said.

“My practice as a sex educator and coach has been busy. I would say that also speaks volumes to people’s desire to create a more sex-positive experience for themselves.”

But while Victoria may offer a more sex-positive culture compared to other places, it remains true that dating has never been deemed easy, no matter where you live.

A big challenge of dating in our modern times is the changes in expectations for romantic relationships, Fischer said.

“For those seeking partnership, I see a desire to be met on a spectrum of levels – emotionally, sexually, intellectually, spiritually. With the breakdown of village, we are seeking partners who will fulfil more and more of the roles that a whole community once served.”

Unfortunately, this comes in opposition to the short attention spans that online dating promotes, Fischer said.

“We want deep compatibility but online culture can create a gap of disconnection that’s hard to bridge. It’s easy to get caught up on a person’s stats and miss out on how they actually feel to be with and whether or not our values are compatible.”

Nearly half of single-and-looking adults turned to online dating in 2022, a survey by Pew Research Centre found. The most downloaded dating apps on Google Play are Tinder and Badoo, followed by Bumble, Plenty of Fish and Grindr. Other popular apps include Boo and Hinge.

Overall, respondents were divided on whether using dating apps was a positive or negative experience. Only half (53 per cent) said they have had a somewhat or very positive experience.

Fischer has heard first-hand from clients who have had negative experiences.

“I work with a lot of men who get disheartened by online dating,” Fischer said.

“I see it as a kind of marketing game when supporting someone to set up a profile. Many people don’t have a sense of how to do that in a way that feels authentic.”

“Online dating can be especially challenging for introverts and people who are slow to warm,” she added. “For those with low resilience, it can be a hard blow to self-esteem when they don’t get their desired results. I think people are more impacted by poor dating etiquette and ghosting than we admit.”

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While apps are unlikely to go away anytime soon, Fischer’s advice to find love in Victoria is to get off of them and participate in community events that spark one’s interest.

“I think in the wild can still be one of the best ways to meet people,” she said.

Aside from deciding whether to be on or off the apps, another thing daters must navigate is deciding and communicating what type of relationship they want in an increasingly more open culture.

This applies to all age groups: the Pew Research Centre survey found that only half of adults 50 and older who have dated online in the past year cite meeting a long-term partner or spouse as a major reason.

On Tinder, around 52 per cent of Gen Z prefer monogamous relationships, according to a OnePoll survey conducted in 2023. On the other side, 41 percent are open to or seeking non-monogamous relationships – with open relationships (36 per cent) and hierarchical polyamory (26 per cent) being the most popular types.

Fischer anecdotally has seen a growing interest in polyamoury as a relationship model in Victoria. While not suitable for everyone, polyamory offers an alternative approach to love and intimacy, attracting individuals curious about exploring non-traditional dynamics, Fischer said.

“Although it’s still not the dominant culture you see a lot of people in Victoria who are either practicing it or curious about it,” Fischer said.

In essence, Victoria’s dating culture embodies a dynamic where individuals navigate the complexities of modern romance while embracing the principles of authenticity, connection and inclusivity.

As Fischer aptly suggests, finding love in Victoria is not merely about swiping right – it’s about engaging with the community, embracing diversity and remaining open to the possibilities of human connection.

Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
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